Food facts. Tomatoes

Tomato Nutrition, Selection, Storage and Availability In addition to tasting great, tomatoes also provide several key nutrients.  Some benefits of tomatoes are the high amounts of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium, along with lycopene.  Lycopene is a carotenoid, which gives tomatoes their bright red color and may play a role in fighting cancer.  When selecting a tomato, make sure the tomato is smooth, well-formed and free from bruises and blemishes.  Two exceptions are the heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, which may have irregularities of shape and color. Always avoid tomatoes with green or yellow areas, cracks or water-soaked spots.  Never refrigerate a tomato, as it damages the fruit.  If the tomato is not ripe, place it in a paper bag out of direct sunlight to ripen the fruit.  To keep the sweet taste of tomatoes in winter, freeze or dehydrate.  Tomatoes can be used for baking, broiling, grilling, in salads, soups, salsa, sandwiches and more.  Fresh tomatoes are available in Wisconsin from mid-July through September.

Tomato Extras Tomatoes were first cultivated in 700 AD by Aztecs and Incas. Explorers returning from Mexico introduced the tomato into Europe, where it was first mentioned in 1556. The French called it "the apple of love," the Germans "the apple of paradise."  Tomatoes are one of the most popular garden plants in the United States.  As a member of the nightshade family, the tomato is related to potatoes, peppers and eggplant.  All tomatoes can be classified by type and include cherry, grape, beefsteak, plum, slicing and pear. More than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced per year -16 million tons more than the second most popular fruit: the banana.

Information from the Wisconsin Fresh Market Vegetable Growers Association, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.